Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hatsune Miku:Project Diva F

Gamespot Score: 7.0 (Good)

My Score: 8.0

(+) Pros: - Same, great gameplay with newly added features as well as improved old ones, - Changing characters and costumes for each character is a lot more convenient, - Vibrant, bright and colorful MVs really fit the big screen, - Its easier to earn DP to unlock costumes and items, unlike before, - Extreme difficulty songs provide massive challenge, even for veterans, - MV editing can be a blast.

(-) Cons: - Can get distracting on the big screen, - Lesser songs than previous game iterations, even with the console extras.

Play time: -

Ah Miku, how much you've grown over these few years. Debuting as a music vocal programmer with a face and character, you've gone to gaining popularity via music videos online. Then you've got your game debut on the PSP, which got its good share of sequels and expansions, which further expanded to the arcade scene. Then you've got your little 3DS games with "Project Mirai", then you further expanded your influence to the VITA in the form of "Project Diva F". But that wasn't enough, you ported it to the PS3, and as if that wasn't great enough news already, Sega went and prepared you for a western release. For the first time ever, fans outside of Japan get to enjoy the awesomeness that is "Project Diva" in English! Yes, ENGLISH! We've waited a long time, but it has finally come, and its thanks to the demand of the fans! Miku power!

On an unrelated note, I bought the Japanese version, but I managed to get my hands on the English one as well.

Is that romanji I see?

I've reviewed every possible iteration of the "Project Diva" games on my blog, so there's really no need to explain the gameplay mechanics for the 256th time. I'll just break it down for you. During a song, an MV plays in the background with your selected character of that song, complete with your customized accessories and clothing. As the song plays, notes will appear on screen, following the four buttons on your controller. Hitting the notes as they fly to their respective timers will net you a pass on that note, and you'll be graded according to how well you timed that note press. You'll get better scores with better grades, going by the order of "COOL", "FINE", "SAFE", "BAD" and "WOSRT" (I'm sure there an "AWFUL" rating for the English release).

There will be arrows on screen sometimes, which require you to press the direction of the arrow on the D-pad, followed by the corresponding button on the button pad. A right arrow requires you to hit "right" and "O" together. Missing notes will deteriorate your "Health Bar" at the bottom left hand side of the screen, and hitting notes grant you points as well as increase your score meter. As long as the score meter passes one of the 3 stretch goals towards its ends, you will pass the song. Getting a higher score to push the meter towards deeper stretch goals will net you a better rating towards the end.

Technical zone, a new mechanic in which you should not screw up.

These so far have been the game's basic mechanics since its previous iterations, but as a new game, "Project Diva F" has some new tricks up its sleeves. First off, we get the new star notes that appear in the game, which act as a new type of button press. This one is pretty simple, its just a simple tilt on the analog stick. Seeing a bunch of star notes together means you get to go on an analog waggling spree. These are usually free points most of the time since you can just wag that analog stick till it drops off and you'll still be good, though all you get will be "FINE"s. If you want "COOL" you probably gotta tilt the analog stick properly like you would for normal notes.

Another new gameplay mechanic that kicks in during songs is the technical zone. Like how the chance time pretty much means your only legitimate way to rack up points insanely fast, the technical zone functions as an inferior chance times. Each song has multiple technical zones, and during a technical zones, gameplay functions as per normal, you just hit notes on screen. If you hit all the notes while the technical zone is up, you gain extra points at the end of it. Miss a note during the technical zone and you miss out on bonus points, easy as that. Like the chance time, this just gets you on your toes every time you see the words "Technical Zone" appear on the top left hand corner of the screen. These usually mean a grade or two in your final score.

Rin, please don't be angry.

Remember how in previous games, you've always had to change your character and their costumes before preparing for a song? Kiss that tediousness goodbye, as in "Project Diva F", things have become a lot more convenient. Now, instead of gearing up Miku or any of the other vocaloids before a song, you select a song, you change the costume or the character for it, and the game saves your decision. From then on, everytime you play that song, your characters, costumes and settings are automatically prepared for you. Of course, you can change the costumes from time to time if you want to, but this new system of picking and choosing really helps lessen the time you spent dressing up and changing your characters before each song.

MVs from the "Project Diva" games have always been bright, colorful and visually appealing, at least on the PSP. Making the jump to the PS3 really helped improved the game's quality, polish and graphics. MVs and characters alike look great, and the colorful backgrounds are really pleasing to the eye. Whether it will be good enough for you to oggle on the cuteness of Rin and Miku, or to admire the sexy curves of Luka and Meiko, I leave it up to you. Well, when it comes down to eye candy, there's always the swimsuit costumes.

Oho, so many options!

Speaking of buying costumes, its much easier to acquire diva points, or DP, this game. Even though previous games share the same practice of giving out DP to the players depending on their grades in scores, they've jacked up the values in "Project Diva F" by a considerable amount, which makes it way easier to grind for DP and buy the costumes that you want...since some of them can get very pricey. You might think that this opens up less replay-ability, since everyone will unlock everything faster, I disagree. 

While this might be the case two games ago, since "Project Diva Extend", Sega has put in extra effort into making some ridiculously challenging songs. In "Project Diva F", we get even MORE challenging songs that "Project Diva Extend" had, and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that even up to date, I have not managed to clear some of the extreme difficulty songs (f**king Sadistic Music Factory, that song is really sadistic as all f**k). And if you want something else to do other than songs, there's always admiring out girls in the Diva room and buying stuff for them there, or you can use the new MV editing studio to create videos and share with your friends (I haven't used this much).

Smexy Miku.

Transitioning to the big screen really brought out many of the current game's good sides, but it does have one issue during gameplay. Unfortunately, it isn't a small issue. Notes on screen get too small at times, and the MV in the background can get too colorful, colorful enough to conflict with the colors of the notes...making it pretty hard to see at times. Sure, you can get past these things with enough memorization, but these issues shouldn't exist in the first place. There also seem to be lesser songs than previous games. "Diva Extend" had over 42 songs, and I'm sure "Diva 2" had over 40 easily as well. "Project Diva F" has only 38 songs, INCLUDING the console extra exclusives.

To conclude, this is Miku's first proper outing to the console (not counting dreamy theater here), and its a pretty great one. The game looks beautiful enough, and there's enough content to keep you playing long doesn't loose out TOO much to any of the previous games in terms of content. There's quite a lot to go around if you're a Vocaloid fan, but if you're not, this isn't the "revolutionary" title to pull you in. Its plenty fun, but not too much out of the comfort zone as well if you're used to playing "Project Diva" on your PSP. Lets see where Miku takes us next eh? It seems her influence over the world is growing bigger by the day. I wonder if "Project Diva F 2" gets localized.....

Happy gaming!